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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai

German medical professional warns: “Dubai healthcare industry puts profits before patients.”

Dubai medical industry. "shiny new buildings. Inexperienced, under-qualified staff and poor quality equipment."

Dr WA a highly respected German neurosurgeon, along with US, UAE and UK medical colleagues is concerned that The UAE is not meeting international standards of medical care. This puts UAE patients’ health at risk, and doctors at risk of criminal negligence cases, even where the liability rests with the hospitals.

A public example is the case of Imran Hussain whose family is seeking compensation; Hussain has been left permanently brain damaged after a procedure carried out at the Dubai clinic in August 2016. The number of reports of similar incidents are increasing, partly due to the publicity surrounding this case.

Dr WA had been practicing in the UAE for over five years but felt compelled to leave when his attempts to improve the standard of care were ignored. Talking to Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai, Dr WA said,

“The core problem lies in the prevailing philosophy in the UAE, that of quick profit and little concern as to quality and standards. The government has outsourced healthcare to the private sector who are interested in low costs and fast profits; There is a hospital or clinic on practically every corner and the competition between the facilities is strong. Clinics are driving patients to have unnecessary treatments and surgeries, purely as a means to profit.

To reduce costs, clinics are hiring cheaper, unqualified and inexperienced labour; the responsibility is placed on the lead physician who needs to practice defensive medicine. He will always be on call or will be forced to take risks, hoping that ‘all will go well’. I was on call 24/7 for almost six years.

“The buildings look super but it is a facade. The equipment and staff required to provide quality care are lacking, particularly in advanced specialities such as mine, Neurosurgery, Cardiac Surgery, Interventional Neuroradiology and complex spine care or trauma.

There is no unbiased nor true independent body to monitor or regulate quality and care or to impose rulings in negligence claims.

I took part on the board of several Dubai Health Authority medical malpractice inquiries. In all of them, there was clear negligence and malpractice issues and I ruled accordingly. However, nothing happened to any of the professionals. It was all ‘make believe’.

I often addressed these shortcoming but became targeted by the administrators as my suggestions for improvements reflected negatively on their (false) image of maintaining international standards of care. I suffered intimidation, threats and most practitioners fear discussing any shortcomings.

During my time in the Emirates, I witnessed many mistakes and declined surgeries, advising my patients to seek medical care abroad due to a lack of equipment and qualified postoperative care. These patients found alternative surgeons and suffered severe post op complications that the hospitals saw as profitable; Most European specialists are planning to leave as soon as possible. Local Emiratis are well aware that the standards are low and usually seek their own medical care from abroad.

It is both sad and surprising that I was not able to make my voice heard; I truly wished to contribute to positive changes in the country.

Radha Stirling, who is assisting the family of Imran Hussain with their medical negligence claims, said “to improve standards of care in Dubai, responsibility needs to be accepted in cases of malpractice and negligence. If the Dubai courts do not allow independent experts to give evidence throughout Imran’s civil proceedings, there is no incentive for profit driven hospitals to improve their standards of care.

Several Neuro-consultants have fled The UAE disgusted at the standard of care. They cannot operate in an environment where they are unable to act ethically or openly, especially given local press censorship and slander laws.

We are advising that patients seek healthcare in other, more established countries until the pattern of putting profit before patients changes. Allowing a public and fair hearing for Mr Hussain’s claim will go a long way in showing a willingness to improve”.

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